Category Archives: Buying Local

One month till pork

 

We budget our money, saving for our chicken and pork needs.  Most of the year we save save save for chicken, but we are splurging and getting half a hog in November.

IMG_6316

IMG_6311

We have been taking these pigs tomatoes and acorns.  If I can swing making a batch of apple butter and applesauce on Saturday, they will get apple cores on Sunday.  Looking forward to the variety of meat we will get from our investment in good food.

chicken for the winter

We picked up our 15 chickens on Sunday

IMG_6315

We let them “rest” for a day or two in the fridge, making it easier to cut up. IMG_6296

I leave some whole.

IMG_6318

Mom got me an early christmas present, a food saver, which has made the process easier.  I am confidant that the birds will be free of freezer burn.  They could last a year or more in there, but we eat them up before that happens.  Nice to know we have food for the winter.  We have been doing this for a couple years now, and have it worked out that we are usually on our last bird end of May, which is around the time of the first chicken day.

I know people think it’s weird that we choose to spend our Sunday processing chicken.  Even more odd is how kind of bummed I get after the last chicken day.  We started going out to the farm to get more connected to our food and now we have these great friends.  I look forward to seeing everyone, talking and laughing while wrist deep in chicken guts.  Sharing a meal with folks who believe like we do in real food, humanely raised meat and supporting local farmers/business.  I am glad that I met Anna at the Grandin Market in 2011, she was the only vendor selling chicken at the market at the time.  I had done a search to find local chicken and Bramble Hollow seemed to be one of the only farms doing it at the time.  If you go saturday, there are a handful of folks selling birds, maybe you can find a farm that will let you take a tour of the farm, and eventually let you start bagging, and when someone who usually helps out on the table goes off and has a baby, you might be one of the people they ask to help you do this.  Brent and Anna are always so grateful and appreciative of us coming out to help with the work, but we talk about it every drive home away from the farm how we feel like the lucky ones!

 

Good Food Good Chili

While the markets last I am going to start making something from each vendor, just to spotlight what they do and who they are.  So I start with Good Food Good People .  One of the larger vendors at the Grandin Farmers market.  Who they are in their own words

Founded in 1996, Good Food – Good People (GFGP) provides locally grown and produced food to retail and wholesale buyers in Southwest Virginia. GFGP represents over 50 producers of fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, pasture-raised frozen meats, free-range eggs, farm cheeses, breads and baked delicacies, value-added foods and lots more.

They also have a CSA, are very active at all the markets in the area,  They are clear and transparent about where the food was grown, how it is grown, low spray, no spray, Non-GMO, grass-fed.  It makes choices easier.  It also gives customers a chance to taste the difference for themselves.

For me GFGP is more like the grocery store, where I can get meat, cheese, produce, honey, jams, pasta.  I like the variety.  They also allow pre orders for bulk produce.  If I want to order a half bushel of pickling cucumbers, they will have a box ready for pick up at several locations.  It is a service that I truly appreciate.

To kickoff this recipe thing I start with chili.  My recipes are loose, and measurements are optional.

Good Food Good Chili

As you can see I bought a pound of ground beef, three onions, and a few peppers.

IMG_6107

Then with a little butter sauteed the chopped veggies

IMG_6110

I added canned tomatoes from the garden and tossed in some of my jalapeno peppers. I browned up with beef, added garlic, salt and chili powder.  I cooked on low for a couple hours.  You could let it cook down in the crock pot too.  Not sure why, but we have gotten away from beans in the chili, but you can add whatever you want.

IMG_6115

I like to make enough for a couple meals.  Madigan and I do a Cincinnati style chili, over pasta with cheese.  Boomer just wants a spoon and some Tabasco. And with all chili, it’s better the second day, so I park it in the fridge over night, then reheat the next day.

 

The Saturday Farmer’s market is back

So happy! This is Betty, she gives Madigan flowers every week.

IMG_3125

IMG_3140

Betty is a highlight for us at the market. She is so kind and caring. I love seeing her at the market, we always try to buy a few things, scallions and greens yesterday. So glad the market is back for the season.

what does half a hog look like?

IMG_2993

It took a regular cooler, large market 31 thermal, and 4 lunch boxes.

IMG_2995

We had cleared out the chest freezer down stairs to make sure we could get it all to fit.

IMG_2996

That’s all of it, a ham, a handful of roasts, couple dozen chops, ground pork, chorizo, breakfast sausage and fat.

IMG_3004

This is the 70 to 80 lbs in the freezer, with still enough room to put a few chickens and Italian sausage back. We have enough pork to last us till the fall or longer.

IMG_3005

Taking stock

Had to see what we have in the freezer. It’s this time of year we have to decide on how may chickens we need, how much meat we would like and if we want to buy into our CSA. This year with the purchase of our home, we are opting out of the vegetable CSA and trying to grow our own. We took 10% of what we spend on the CSA and bought seeds, hoping we would get at least the same amount of food from our own back yard. Only time will tell.

We did decide to get half a hog, as I mentioned the other day, instead of a meat CSA. I put in my cut requests. The hogs go to the processor on Tuesday and we need to make sure we have enough room to store what we get. I think we will, I hope we will. If not, we will have to run out and get a new freezer. We did it before and we will do it again if we have to. So I took stock of what we have.

15 lbs of Italian sausage (we bought 25 lbs orginally, and we still have over half)
5 whole chickens
1 whole cut up chicken
10 packs of thighs and legs
8 chicken breasts
4 lbs of ground beef
1 lb of ground pork
1 tenderloin (less than a pound)
1 loin roast (2 lbs at least)
2 jars of lard
A bag of backs and wing tips for stock
1 pint of butter

That’s a lot of food. First chicken days are in May and June. So we can assume my chicken stocks will be down. 13 weeks before we will have a new stock of chicken in the freezer. Which means 26 to 40 meals with chicken before now and then.

For the record we are frugal with the meat in the house. Before buying store bought stuff, we would eat a whole chicken in one sitting, we now get 2 or 3 meals out of one, depending on what else we have to eat. If we have a huge assortment of sides and other options we go easy on the protein but if we are stuck with corn and beans we will have more. So that chicken total might be closer to zero by time chicken day rolls around. With ordering in advance, knowing what we need, getting only the amount we will use but time chicken day rolls around, helps us budget and the farmer’s plan. They aren’t raising more than they need and being left with their freezers full. If they don’t sell everything at the market, they can’t do a managers special/closeout price.

The only problem with that list, it adds to the anxiety about needing a generator. I think I would be able to live with out a hot shower, no a/c and limited entertainment while the power was out but would hate to lose that investment of food.

trying to keep expectations low

Buying a house is a big deal. Buying a house that could give us the freedom to do all the things we want to do is HUGE, especially since we have been looking for about a year. Remember this one? Or this one? With that in mind, I am trying to stay cool about it. Not get too excited. I don’t know if that’s something I have learned over the years, do not get overly excited about something cause if it doesn’t happen you won’t looks so disappointed. I don’t like getting disappointed…in fact I am the worst at not having my expectations met.

Example, Madigan…I wanted a girl so badly, even on the last sonogram we got, which was about 3 days before christmas I asked the tech again, is there anyway this could be a boy (I have a terrible poker face and would have sobbed openly in the birthing room had it been a boy.) and she said “Not without a series of painful operations.” I expected my little girl, had it been anything else I would have been devastated.

With the house, we are still at the “we walk away” point if the sellers don’t do what we ask. So when Boomer and Madigan want to go pick out colors for the walls or look at lawnmowers, I remind them we still live in an apartment. I also have to keep my hope for the garden and making portable coops in check cause I know I will be the one cheering everyone up if we don’t get the house.

Another tidbit about the house. Closing around christmas, kind of scares me. I am a busy gal last week of the year, only a little time off from work but SOOOO MUCH TO DO. It’s christmas eve dinner, open presents, breakfast christmas morning at Margaret’s, open more presents, over to Boomer’s folks for dinner, more presents. Day after christmas take down the tree and take down all christmas decorations, make birthday cake. Madigan’s birthday means donuts for breakfast, open presents, pictures taken, chinese food for lunch, open presents, what ever else she wants to do, make special birthday dinner or out to eat, more presents. Couple days off, New Years eve super snack party till midnight. Couple more days and we celebrate our 12th anniversary (and they said it would never last). I have things to do that I can’t just wait on.

Oh and let’s not forget we still need to strategically place our bet on when everything will be done and put in our notice at said apartment.

did someone mention a house?

This is the house we are trying to buy. Here’s what I love about this house, we could have 2 more kids and still not out grow it. (At 43 that’s not happening, but I enjoy the thought) There’s room for everything that could come up in the next 10 years. Practicing music, working on a dunk shot, coming up with a science fair project, practicing lines from a play, getting ready for prom, studying for the SATs–it can all be done here. I don’t know about you, but the thought of having a second kitchen to can on a hot day and still be able to make dinner upstairs is amazing. A portion of the basement isn’t heated so we have a decent place to store all of that canning and the worms can be in a cooler place than the pantry in the kitchen. The possibilities are endless; water reclamation, solar panels, composting, sustainable living, chickens and pigs can all be done here.

We are getting a home inspection Wednesday, USDA guy has to come out and check property, appraisal, underwriting. If all works well and there are no delays we would close between thanksgiving and christmas.